8. Tossed salad
It’s the bare minimum for a vegan-friendly function, but make sure you grab this straight out of the fridge. No one wants limp lettuce leaves and hot-ass cucumber and tomato slices that have been sitting in the sun all damn day.
7. Grilled corn
Push those spareribs aside — with the right degree of char, corn on a grill is like music to your ears. Just be careful with that powdered cheese around your dark-colored T-shirt, fam.
Ain’t nothin’ wrong with that! An unsung hero, cornbread lives in that delicious middle ground between dry-ass biscuit and full-blown pound cake. When that subtle sweetness hits just right (with a slab of butter!), this role-player can easily slide up into the top three.
5. Deviled eggs
The devil is a lie. Deviled eggs, however, are the truth.
4. Barbecue baked beans
The perfect baked beans follow the musical formula Dr. Dre has sworn by since The Chronic: smoked and slow-cooked. Bacon and brown sugar make the cipher complete.
3. Collard greens
Soul food lacks soul without a pop of the collard on your plate. (And some cornbread to sop up the juice.) ScHoolboy Q and Kendrick know what’s up.
2. Macaroni and cheese
Making fire mac and cheese is a true craft, but don’t you dare pull up to the barbecue with that blue-box stuff. From scratch is the only acceptable option, made with cheddar that’s sharp like Shannon. Done right, this dish will be the first to go every single time.
1. Potato salad
After “who all gon’ be there?” your RSVP rests on one question: “Who made the potato salad?” Inquiring (and concerned) minds need to know. Not only is it the title of a straight-to-DVD rom-com starring Jaleel White, but the answer to said question will likely determine if this dish’s placement is a hands-down cookout centerpiece or a runny mess that’s avoided at all costs. There are so many ways to fuck this up, but potato salad done right — like the A$AP Rocky and Tyler, The Creator freestyle of the same name — is heavenly.